By Jeffrey Folloder
Be Prepared …
There have been many quite prescient individuals that have offered the opinion that a failure to plan is a plan for failure. It seems simple enough. The thought is that exerting a little bit of effort up front will result in less than catastrophe in the future. So why is it that so many of us fail to heed the sober warnings of those who have quite obviously been through “it” before? Why are so many folks, particularly those involved in firearms, caught up in calamity that could have been avoided with some simple, diligent planning on the front end?
I do not pretend to offer commentary on the human condition. I will suggest to you that I am speaking from personal experience. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Like many of you, I hold a Federal Firearms License (FFL); in my case an 07/SOT as a manufacturer. It is all too easy to put off checking in deliveries. It can wait. It is much less fuss to copy down the information from the invoice into the Acquisition and Disposition book when I get a few spare moments. It is all too easy to just punch holes in the 4473s and shove them in the giant binder.
But that is a recipe for disaster. Boxes that aren’t handled could easily be forgotten or dealt with far past ATF’s entry timeline requirements. Working from an invoice for critical record information? What are the chances that the shipper made a mistake? Not proofreading the 4473s? Nobody ever makes a mistake on those. We all know that reality is somewhat different than our ideal state of bliss. So, I deal with the shipping boxes as soon as they arrive. I open the boxes. I lay eyes on each and every serial number and reconcile it with the invoice right away. The right serial number goes in the A&D book right then. Every line on every 4473 is checked. How about that? I forgot to sign at least one of them. Pretty sure that the Industry Operations Investigator would have cheerfully pointed that out to me. Doing it right, the first time, reduces the unpleasant prospect of having to do it again under scolding eyes—or worse.
There is also another aspect to good planning that many of us tend to miss or purposefully ignore: our own demise. Sadly, I am currently dealing with the loss of a parent and am very familiar with the ocean of detail that must be dealt with as the result of someone’s passing. I combine this direct knowledge with the all-too-frequent inquiries that the NFATCA receives from folks who are dealing with the passing of an FFL holder. “What do I do with all these guns?” Unfortunately, many FFL holders do not have any type of succession plan or even a basic list of instructions as to what to do or how to dispose of things. The survivors are confronted with a pile of guns, a mountain of paperwork, an ocean of confusing regulation and the icy paralysis of indecision. Of course, adding NFA items to the mix only heightens the anxiety. “Exactly what am I supposed to do with this machine gun?”
Each of us should have a will. Or, at the very least, a set of instructions as to what comes next. Diligent planners will have worked with an estate planning professional (well worth the relatively minor expense) to make sure that their desires are carried out with a minimal amount of difficulty for the survivors. Every single person or entity that holds an FFL should have a similar set of plans laid out for their firearms enterprise. How will (or must) weapons be disposed of? Will the FFL continue or dissolve? What paperwork will be needed? What about those posties? Can the spouse just keep it all? This need not be difficult, confusing or overwhelming. A little planning up front will save a lot of anguish for those who watched you build over the years.
Need some direction? The NFATCA offers help for this and a host of other things that directly support the NFA community. Over a dozen years into its existence, the NFATCA still helps to bring more NFA opportunities to more people, more often. And we will continue to do so.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N7 (September 2017)|